‘Contemplating the ifs’ can be scary
I have a friend who 20-some years ago stumbled upon a 19th century log house in southwestern Wisconsin that was falling apart. It belonged to a farmer who was building a new home for his family. My friend struck a deal, agreeing to purchase a small parcel of the farmer’s land—about 45 acres—if the farmer would throw in the old house. He then disassembled the house timber by timber, stone by stone, and rebuilt it on his little patch of heaven.
This friend often is at my home helping me with handyman projects. Where my idea of relaxation is sitting in a recliner with a beer in one hand and the remote in the other, his is knocking down a few trees, sawing them into logs and chopping them into splits for his myriad fireplaces. So, to pay him back for all the work he’s done at my place, I played lumberjack for a weekend a couple of weeks ago , wielding an axe now and then, but mostly gathering what he cut, loading the wood into his tractor and driving the load to the woodpile adjacent to the log house.
My favorite movie is Pulp Fiction. In one scene, a nefarious character named Jules calls his equally nefarious boss, a crime lord named Marcellus. Jules is in a panic because, through no real fault of his own—other than he’s a criminal, of course—he’s just become an accomplice to manslaughter, and he’s not sure how to extricate himself from the situation. Marcellus asks Jules various questions until Jules snaps at him. When that happens, Marcellus calmly replies, “All I’m doin’ is contemplating the ifs.”
On one of the many journeys between the house and the woods I began to “contemplate the ifs,” and my thoughts quickly turned dark and scary—perhaps it was the diesel fumes emanating from the tractor. I began to wonder what I would do if the chainsaw my buddy was using hit a knot, or the axe missed the chopping block and he severely gouged his leg. I’m trained in first aid, but at some point I would have to call 911. Would my cell phone work? If so, would the public-safety answering point be able to locate me? That sent a chill up my spine. If they couldn’t, my friend would be in big trouble, because I had no idea where I was. When I drive up from Chicago, I know how to get to the house, but I don’t know the address—I’m not sure there is an address. Sure, I could race back to the house and use the landline if an accident occurred on the property, but that would take considerably more time than calling 911 from my wireless phone, which I always have with me. Time is a precious commodity when someone is bleeding profusely.
I long have been an advocate of increased funding for first responder communications, particularly for PSAP upgrades. While we both got through that day unscathed, just contemplating the scenario described above was frightening enough—and motivating enough to keep me beating the funding drum long and hard.
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